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A happy 9th 'Star Wars' birthday

Posted: August 27, 2010 4:35 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2010 5:00 a.m.

My son, Caleb, turned 9 a week ago. Which, by the way, means, my other son, Joshua, will be 10 in early October. Where did the time go?!

   Caleb is all about Legos and Star Wars right now. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching the original trilogy with the boys recently. To say he’s hooked is to put things mildly. Anyway, as we began asking him what he wanted to do for his party, he said Star Wars.

   We decided to break up the celebrating over a couple of weekends in order to a) keep ourselves from getting too worn out (yeah, right!) and b) get the house clean. LOL, as the Internet generation says. Two weekends ago, we surprised Caleb by going on a day trip to Discovery Place in Charlotte, N.C. If you haven’t been lately, I urge you to go, no matter what your age. The facility has been completely revamped for the better. There’s a fantastic amount of interactivity, including lots of chances for hands-on exploration. We also spotted a few exotic animals -- I was fascinated by a macaw that squawked a few greetings (no words, though) as folks went in and out of Discovery’s rainforest exhibit.

   The neatest part of that portion of the day was sitting in on a show about things that glow. It focused on “cold light” -- luminescence -- that different objects and creatures emit. For whatever reason, even though it was Caleb’s birthday, Joshua got picked first to help out. Laura, the “scientist,” asked him to remove a cover from a tray that revealed a glass of water. She had already explained that certain things glow under ultraviolet (UV) light. Josh was instructed to ask the audience “Will it glow?” and then put the glass under the UV light. Guess what? It did. However, Laura admitted she’d cheated. The water wasn’t just water but had quinine which is used to treat malaria. Josh got a glow-in-the-dark wrist band as a reward.

   I got my own kick out of the show when while taking pictures. I timed a shot just right, picking up the blast of a balloon filled with hydrogen that Laura “pricked” with flame. The picture shows the resulting orange, almost sun-like explosion of hydrogen and oxygen. Score!

   It started to get late, so we trekked up to Concord, N.C., home to -- you guessed it -- Concord Mills Mall. At 1.4 million square feet, it’s one of the largest in the Southeast. Remember, I mentioned Star Wars and Legos? My wife and I had learned that Concord Mills held a Lego store and that it carried Star Wars-themed building sets. Caleb, of course, had no idea.

   Imagine the excitement as your almost 9-year-old son enters this store for the first time. He went bonkers (in a mostly good way). Much to my chagrin, though, he didn’t choose anything from the Star Wars collection. Instead, he was transfixed by -- drum roll, please -- a Lamborghini police car. Go figure! Due to demanding schedules on everybody’s part, as of Thursday, we’d only gotten about one-third of the car completed, but are really enjoying what progress we’ve made.

   But we still felt he needed something from Star Wars.

   We fixed that the next day. In order to have a chance to visit with my mother and sister, we first decided to head over to Irmo and see “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.” It was hilarious. A really funny, funny film and one that’s good for the whole family. For the grown-ups, there’s nods to James Bond, of course, as well as other references. The kids will simply get caught up in all the gadgets and slapstick comedy involved.

   Across the street was Toys ‘R’ Us. (Music from “Psycho” is now playing through every parent’s head.) As soon as we entered, Caleb had a pretty good idea why we were there and we headed back to the Star Wars section. At first, we couldn’t find what we were looking for but, just as we were about to give up, he looked up and there it was: a “double” light saber like Darth Maul’s from the first of the prequel movies. It’s about the only thing he’s talked about for months.

   After that, we did visit with my mom and sister and joined them for some dinner.

   But the fun wasn’t over yet. As I write this, tomorrow for me is Friday. The plan: a Star Wars birthday party featuring the son of a friend of ours dressed up, I believe, as a Boba Fett-like character. A few of the boys’ friends, who also have light sabers, apparently, are supposed to come over and -- Caleb’s words -- run around the front yard. It should be ver-ry interesting (as Arte Johnson would put it) to see how this turns out. In the meantime, anybody who saw a bunch of Jedi knights or rebel soldiers attacking a helmeted man in front of a house ... that was us.

   The challenge now is what to do for Joshua as his 10th (yikes!) birthday approaches. There’s been a bit of the green-eyed monster from him since we’ve focused, perhaps, a little too much on his brother. He’s talked about cowboys (and even cowgirls?!!?) as a theme.

Wish us luck!


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